Saturday, January 21, 2006

Telemarketing rules of etiquette

My husband had to go to work early today (he has a job on campus that follows a weird schedule), so I thought it was him calling when my phone rang around 8:20. I dashed out of bed to grab it before the machine kicked in and instead of being him, I hear a thick Southern voice, too thick to be his mother:

"Hello, is Shallow Man home?"

"No, he's at work. May I take a message?"

"Oh. Then is Elliespen home?"

"Yes, this is she."

"Well this is (our bank)," (for a moment I'm filled with dread, thinking someone had stolen our identities and run up a kazillion dollar debt on our account -- after all, why else would our bank be calling this early on a Saturday morning? It must be something urgent), "calling to let you know that we are offering free 60-day supplemental auto coverage..."

I nearly snapped. You woke me up to tell me you want to sell us insurance? "We already have auto insurance, thank you."

"Yes, but I want to stress that this is SUPPLEMENTAL..."

"No, we already have coverage, THANK YOU."

"Alright, if you have any questions our toll-free number is...."

Now, I don't have a problem saying NO to telemarketers. I used to meekly cower on the phone and listen to their whole spiel, waiting for them to pause for breath before I told them I wasn't interested. Then I'd have to listen to the secondary spiel, rinse wash and repeat. Eventually I would get them off the phone, but not before they had wasted a full five to seven minutes of my time.

My reasons for this were that, even though it was annoying to me, I had done phone work before (surveys, not sales, at least) and knew how horrible it was and how hard it was to have people be rude to you. So I was trying to make their day a little less horrible. That's before I realized that phone calls don't bother other people as much as they did me. I also gradually realized that they were putting their job before my personal comfort and convenience, so I didn't really need to do the same. Someone had to look out for MY interests, for goodness' sake!

So now I have honed my interruption skills to a fine point. I listen just long enough to hear what they're offering and then tell them that I already have it, I'm not interested, or that my current long distance company beats the pants off of THAT offer. Then I firmly repeat this as soon as they begin the secondary spiel. I can get them off the phone now in a minute to a minute and a half, depending on how persistant they are. If they break that 90-second rule, I just hang up. This makes telemarketers much easier to deal with, so they don't bother me quite so much anymore.

Until they break the sanctity of my Saturday morning, that is. The one day I really have to sleep in. The one day ANYBODY really has to sleep in (unless you have small children, I know. But we don't yet). I will never call anybody before 10:00 on Saturdays just in case they wanted to be lazy in bed for awhile, unless they have given me specific directions to call them earlier. It's just common courtesy. I thought everyone knew that.

In a pinch, I can even condone people calling as early as 9:15 or so. It's cutting it closer but is still within the realms of human acceptability. But in that case I would only call a close friend or a business. In the first case, they'll forgive me, and in the second there's no danger of waking someone up.

So where on earth do the telemarketers get the gall to start calling me before 8:30 on Saturday morning? That's just plain bad business. How many people are really going to say yes to something after you've dragged them out of bed? That's like calling in the middle of dinner, but worse. Especially if they already use your services -- you want to keep them happy, not antagonize them. For the first thirty minutes or so after the call, I was considering switching banks. Maybe I can find one who, even if they ARE more interested in my money than in me, at least has the decency not to show it.

Or maybe I'll just post a rant on my blog in protest.


Daring Young Dad said...

The NERVE!!!

I have taken to actually telling the poor person on the other end some of the real reasons I don't want to talk to them. "I am in the middle of reading my daughter a story!" or "My wife is in the bathroom and my baby just threw up and I have to clean it up!" or "How do you feel about calling people so early on a Saturday?" :)

Liz said...

I just ask them if they'll take my foodstamps. That usually solves the issue pretty quick-like.